=549= Thanksgiving: Encouraged

Well, today I got really encouraged.

First of all, I managed to spend some time to teach JK the visuals system. It took me 30 minutes, to help him. JK was proactive at learning too. Yeah, I will need time to train ah! Really going to request for something to be put in place.

Next, worship encounter was such an incredible experience. First time playing stand up drums with a seat and putting cloths on the drums to dampen the drums. It felt like the drums just exploded with new ideas and sounds! Without the towels, it seemed like whatever I hit will be loud. So it kinda limited me to the different sounds. Today however, with the cloths on the drums, it opened up a whole new outlet of sounds to experiment with. Man was it exciting! 😁👍🏿

I started hitting the snare without wires. Kinda like a dry djembe without any resonant tone! 🙂 it gave like a dry djembe drum loop kinda sound. It was just fun to play around with! 

Then the addition of mallets and brushes expanded the variety of sounds even more! Just very nice! 🙂

Then the worship encounter message. Man. That was good. I was tearing up when they did Teh sim cloth thingy then they flipped. Having planned such stuff before, I already knew where it was going, but you know, sometimes the spirit just stirs when you are once again reminded of his great love for you. 

Then, Sheila and her Friend Joel came in to use the hall for recording. Well, being who I am, I decided to help. HAHA. I mean, I actually learned all these kinda stuff before. So I started to understand the whole situation. How many instruments? How are they doing it? Just the track out from the thumb drive?

So the whole recording was Cajon, Guitar and vocal. So after learning from Kim Lau for that one Month. Man. I started my recording engineer mode. Instead of recording through a DI. I brought the SM81 from bethel to mic the guitar. It was just nicer you know. HAHA!

I found that having a condenser mic just can give that nicer tone for a guitar. Through DI just sounds horrible. Very often we find ourselves stuck with a sound that is too springy that it almost sounds like it comes from an electric guitar. Not a nice sounding electric guitar but a cheap and broken one. It sounds that bad. Recently, been helping the guitarist set his guitar pickup settings. Quite cool! HAHA! There are functions like notch and mic blend. No idea what they are, but they do affect the tone quite a bit so I needa work with it.

Did quite a bit of compressing. Well, the CL3 has like premium compressors right, so I used the LA2A on the vocals and the whole ST LR, just to give that squashing.

Now that everything is over, I reflected and thought about it. I have kinda like a good idea how to do a proper recording in Emmaus next time with the sound board.

First, all musicians must go on avioms. I will off the amp for all the speakers in Emmaus to prevent feedback. Then I will monitor everything through headphones. See the RTA and add in a multiband compressor into the ST LR then you can control dynamics for 4 seperate frequency bands. Then, add in a compressor like the LA2A to compress and maximise the whole track. This should kinda imitate the mastering process.

Then since we had already plugged in the guitar to the DI, let’s not waste that in the future. Use the DI signal for guitar reverb! Not only will it be nicer cause it will be springer, it will also have less leakage!

The sad thing is that the file that we will be getting is MP3. A compressed file. If only we can get a WAV file, it will be worth it to do this kinda thing once in a while you know. A one take recording. Kinda like the old tape record days. That will be exciting.

Then after teaching Javier how to do the recording. I went down to set up for the graduation service. Played with the new trainee band! HAHA! Proud of them ah! Sure it wasn’t perfect, but man, you should have heard them at the first session I had with them! They improved VASTLY! Cannot wait to see them progress in their Musicianship and step up soon! 🙂

Then had a rather nice meeting with the CAMY EXCO. I kinda found my place? HAHA! I remembered feeing quite out of place in this team, but the previous meeting and today, I dunno, something switched? It was rather nice! 🙂 HAHA!

After today, I dunno, I feel kinda encouraged by ministry. Been feeling a bit tired and dread ah, but after today it felt nice! 🙂

Thank you God for all these blessings you have poured my way! 🙂

Bless the Lord O my soul!

-Kelvin-

=547= Reflections: Grow Up

Haha, this is a rare post.

On the way back home, while entering the lift lobby, I heard a smack and a little girl screaming, “MA MAAAA!” 

I heard whimpering and I saw this girl on the floor, with a younger girl beside her, with a plate of what seemed like coloured dyes on a paper plate. I soon realised what happened when I walked in closer. That wasn’t a paper plate with coloured dyes, it was a tray to hold beads. The little girl slipped, fell and spilled beads all over the floor. The Mother of the two girls looking busy on her phone walked towards them and got annoyed. Reprimanded the girl for not being careful. She then stooped down to help pick up beads.

I just came back from my grandma’s and had a tingkat of food in my hands. I just decided that it will be nice to help lah. The beads were really small. Not like it would take up too much time too.

The girl then expressed her regret for wearing slippers. Her little Sister was just not helping by saying that she told her not to. The Mother scolded her again for not being careful. Now the little girl changed her tone and volume, “IT WAS NOT MY FAULT!” Then almost instantly she changed her tone again and said, “oh I know why I fell, there was a bead stuck under my shoe!”

The Mother thanked me everytime I put beads into the tray. She seemed to be I dunno, some exotic Eurasian. Haha, they spoke this rather interesting dialect that I don’t understand a bit of. 

She sent the two little girls back home in the lift. While she herself stayed in the lobby with her Son, this small boy, to pick up more beads.

In the lift, the girl looked that the tray of beads and cried. In an attempt to comfort her, I told her that the beads can be fixed. She then said, “My Friend worked very hard on it….” The sobs drowned the remaining lines. 

Not knowing what to do, I simply used my hands to touch her left arm comforting her. Her little Sister then tried to comfort her too, telling her it is alright.

I don’t understand why, but my heart was a bit full after this incident. There is just this thing about a child’s innocence that makes me heartened.

My first thought about this incident was that man, this kid is so young. HAHA, I pray that you grow up and you will save your tears for more important things.

However, I was also reminded of how small her world is and how this little gift from her friend must  mean the world to her. To the point of crying for something that she owned but spoiled because of an accident. The pure innocence of guilt over wasting a friend’s hard work. Man. How I wish I had that. HAHA. Not that I want to cry everytime I make a mistake, but how much she treasured something like that, man, I do take a lot of things for granted. May I treasure what I have no matter how insignifant it may be.

Another thought was the mother’s irritation. I don’t know. I cannot judge the Mother, but honestly, she wasn’t that bad, she was still very gentle. However, people who know me, know that I think that anger should be saved for more important things too. Being angry at a kid that slipped and fell isn’t helping. I think that what gets you angry is something that will eventually be ingrained into your children’s lives too. Instead of getting angry over minor accidents and slip ups. I think if I ever get the chance in the future, I will teach my kid to think of contingency plans. To accept what is wrong and work with it. Work with what you have, be creative! If something is spoiled, I would love to teach my kid that something that is spoiled can be fixed. I would love to teach my kid to learn that a fall is just a fall. Stand up and move on. Learn what is important and what isn’t, learn what is dire and what isn’t.

Of course, I wouldn’t know, having to face your kid everyday will obviously be different from an outsider. I would love to do this, but I might not even have the capacity myself to do it.

Well, yeah, let us all grow up! 🙂 

-Kelvin-

=546= Reflections: Drum Community 

Recently, I started this weekly drum lessons thing. I started teaching two people and today, we had two new additions to the group.

Quite exciting!

I actually dreamt about this before. I remembered that when I was Sec 1, when I wanted to learn an instrument but didn’t. When I started playing and started to play for service, I wanted to teach. Hence I initiated a drum crash course. After the drum crash course, I actually had several students. One of which is a non-Christian, which got it vey fast.

However, with the progress of the year and the increase of work load and responsibilities, I just couldn’t handle teaching drums. Those 3-4 students I once had were all left hanging.

This year, we had no drum sign ups. Hence we had to teach from a scratch. I was actually pretty psyched about this! Still am!

However, based on experience, if I publicise on a social media or over the pulpit, the response will be overwhelming. Hence, I decided to go simple and found people personally through the leaders that are close to me.

I ended up with two boys and two girls. HAHA! Cool stuff.

M reminded me of myself. Someone that had absolutely no experience in drums or music trying something like this is extremely trying for me. I pray that he will continue to practice and get better.

J reminded me of J. Someone that is pretty talented and has a flair for this kinda stuff. He actually catches music stuff REALLY fast. He probably needs competition. AHAHAH! Which I think with the two girls now, it will happen! 

J reminded me of HS’s friend. Almost a dejavu, once again, a non-christian friend of a female student came and is catching this on REALLY fast! HAHA!

J reminded me of S. I think since the day I met her I guess. HAHA! Dunno, got certain flair one. AHAHAH!

I enjoy teaching them. I enjoy seeing them push each other. I love sharing stories and music with them. Well, I pray that in this short one month I have with them that we will grow closer and we will eventually be like family.

Isn’t it wonderful? To have family members that are interested in the same things?

Would love to have a meal with all of them! 🙂

Lord, raise them Lord! 

-Kelvin-

=545= Word: 仓颉

仓颉 by 五月天
一颗葡萄有多甜美
用尽了所有的 图腾和语言 描写
想一个人有多想念
那又是文字失效瞬间

结一个纪念的绳结
记录你离去后 万语和千言 瓦解
升起了慌张的狼烟
我遗落在最孤独史前 的荒野

多遥远 多纠结 多想念 多无法描写
疼痛 和疯癫 你都看不见
想穿越 想飞天 想变成 造字的仓颉
写出 能让你快回来 的诗篇

一只蝴蝶有多鲜艳
能不能飞越过 猜忌和冷漠 世界
给你的简讯和留言
说不清万分之一追悔

当星宿都沉没山岳
只盼你会抬头 看我寄托的 弯月
当一个文明即将熄灭
有什么证明你我存在 的岁月

多遥远 多纠结 多想念 多无法描写
疼痛 和疯癫 你都看不见
想穿越 想飞天 想变成 造字的仓颉
创造 能让你想起我 的字眼

多遥远 多纠结 多想念 多无法描写
疼痛 和疯癫 你都看不见
想穿越 想飞天 想变成 造字的仓颉
写出 能让你快回来 的诗

需要你 需要你 需要你 想逆转时间
回到 最开始 有你的世界
想穿越 想飞天 想变成 造字的仓颉
写出 让宇宙能重来 的诗篇

(天雨粟 鬼夜哭 思念漫太古)

~
How sweet is the grape?
We use all of the words at our disposal to describe it.
How much do we miss someone?
Another instance when words fail us.

Tie a commemorative knot,
Record the tens of thousands of words and phrases that failed after you left,
Leaving behind an smoking pile of embers.
I’m left behind in the loneliest prehistoric plain.

So far, so conflicted, I long for you so much, so hard to put into words.
The pain and the insanity, you cannot see it.
I want to fly through time, fly through the sky, I want to change into Cang Jie who created characters
So I can write the poem that will bring you back to me.

So far, so conflicted, I long for you so much, so hard to put into words.
The pain and the insanity, you cannot see it.
I want to fly through time, fly through the sky, I want to change into Cang Jie who created characters
So I can write the poem that will bring you back to me.

How beautiful is a butterfly?
Can it fly through this doubting and cold world?
The texts and voicemails I leave you
Cannot even describe one ten-thousandths of my regret.

When the stars all fall,
I hope you’ll lift your head and see the moon I sent.
When a culture is about to die,
What is left to prove yours and my existence?

So far, so conflicted, I long for you so much, so hard to put into words.
The pain and the insanity, you cannot see it.
I want to fly through time, fly through the sky, I want to change into Cang Jie who created characters
So I can create the characters that make you think of me.

So far, so conflicted, I long for you so much, so hard to put into words.
The pain and the insanity, you cannot see it.
I want to fly through time, fly through the sky, I want to change into Cang Jie who created characters
So I can write the poetry that will bring you back to me.

I need you, I need you, I need you, I want to turn back time.
Go back to the beginning, to a world where you exist.
I want to fly through time, fly through the sky, I want to change into Cang Jie who created characters
So I can write the poem that will let the universe begin again.

(Grains rain from the sky, ghosts cry in the night. History is flooded with longing.)

~

五月天 is just so poetic! 😍

=544= Words Of Melancholy: Cat Out Of The Bag

I don’t know, it feels like the cat is out of the bag and someone is holding on to the cat.

The cat is just something I decided to keep in the bag because the cat will do better in the bag rather than being chewed alive by the dog out of the bag.

Hopefully, it isn’t, if not, I will be angry at a few people. Some of which I don’t really want to speak to.

May the cat just be wise and stay in the bag.

I don’t understand people, why bring the cat out when I don’t want it to be out?

Oh well, better sleep soon.

Goodnight!

-Kelvin-

=543= Reflections: Thought Process of a Sound Engineer: Kelvin Edition

How many instruments are there? What instruments are those?
  • Probably the question that is the most important, but most often forgotten.
  • This is important because it will affect how you mix/EQ/Compress.
  • You will mix differently when you are mixing a full band as compared to just a guitar and Cajon.
Which instrument is holding the lows?
  • This is important as you wouldn’t want a mix to be a floating mix. (no lows)
  • The idea is to cut the lows of the other instruments to let the low instrument take the lows so that it will be clear.
  • For example, if it is a full band, the two instruments that often takes the lows are the kick and bass. You wouldn’t want to high pass these two instruments, but you would want to high pass the other guitars/vocals etc etc to clear frequency space for the bass and kick.
  • This idea can go even further, between the bass and kick, which one is going hold the lower lows? You might want to cut those specific frequencies a bit (less than 6dB) just a to make space so make sure that there won’t be frequency masking.
  • For example, if it is a just a guitar and Cajon. The instrument that needs to hold the lows is both instruments; Cajon is percussive so even when the lows is played, there isn’t that sustain to ground the song so the guitar will need to hold the lows too.
  • This means that you cannot high pass the guitar!
  • In a full band, you have to, to make space for the bass and kick.
  • But in this situation, NO! Don’t high pass! Let the lows of the guitar be in the song. This will prevent the track to be totally floating.
  • It, of course, won’t have lows as nice as when there is a bass, but it will help the mix.
Control the band on stage
  • You are the sound engineer, you need to control the band, if not sound check will take a very long time.
  • If you need everyone to be quiet except for the guitar, ask the band to be quiet.
  • Ask for signals for monitor levels, remind kindly.
  • Be nice, don’t be rude even when you are trying to handle the band. It is ok to reprimand a bit, but don’t go over the top.
Have an opinion
  • You will need to be the one to make the decisions right? SO you need to know what you want. Start studying music tracks, hear what an instrument should sound like.
  • Respect fellow sound engineer’s artistic preference. Don’t comment until the end of the set.
  • UNLESS the person isn’t fulfilling the 2 objectives of mixing; Everything must be heard & sound right.
  • Once again, be nice when you comment.
Solve the issue at the source
  • With the luxury of Gain, EQ and dynamic processors, many people don’t solve problems at the source but just EQs.
  • NO! Stop, listen to the source without any EQ or any dynamic processors, give suggestions to the band to get the best result.
  • Common problems are:
    • Vocalist isn’t holding their microphone properly.
    • The wireless microphones aren’t switched on.
    • There is an EQ on the instruments; Guitar/Keys.
    • There are certain effects (like reverb) activated on the keys.
    • The volume of the instrument is down.
    • They aren’t plugged into the DI.
  • Let’s have a systematic way of doing sound. For guitar, ask them to give the loudest volume. If the signal is still too low, check if the DI has a “15 dB pad.” If not, then you go ahead and increase the gain. OH, you as a sound engineer remember to give 48Volts(phantom power) to the DI.
  • Request that they flatten the EQ on the guitar. Hear that sound, then give suggestions to the guitarist on how to EQ his guitar.
  • So for example, if X’s guitar had an EQ, only one knob; Low – high.
  • if at flat, the guitar sounds very piercing, ask the guitarist turn the knob towards the Low until it sounds nice!
  • I realised that the pickup EQ on the guitar is kinda strange. It kinda produces strange artifacts. Making it seem almost kinda like an electric guitar. So if you hear this, you make want to move back down to flat.
  • If the keys are rumbling with lows, ask them to do an EQ on their keys if possible. Some patches that they use have such, but if not used correctly, you may want to suggest to them to change a patch. A sound patch that works in a full band may not work in an acoustic set setting.
  • Remind vocalist to hold their microphones properly. If they lack lows, remind them to hold the microphone close to their mouths. Proximity Effect, the closer the source is to the mic, more of the lows will be picked up.
  • You might even want to go one step further and tell them what they are lacking in their voice, etc etc. For example, at the end of rehearsal, you can go up to them and tell them that their voice is a bit nasal and lacking lows. Constructive feedback is good.
  • Basically, get the best sound you can before you touch your EQ or Dynamics.
Gain
  • Set gain, watch meters.
  • You would want the most signal before feedback.
  • Try to get as much signal level before you even up your gain knob.
  • The lesser you up, the less noisy it will be.
  • Make sure it doesn’t clip/ feedback.
  • If the signal is too hot, that even when your gain is all the way down and it is still clipping. Check if there are any gain compensation on the channel.
  • Then check if the DI has a 15dB pad, adding that in actually helps.
  • There is actually gain on the microphone, you can change that too.
  • Remember that the gain you are controlling on the board is the Gain of the pre-amp.
  • Remember to supply 48V for DIs and Condenser microphones.
EQ!
  • Only after you have done everything above.
  • The general rule of thumb – if EQ is making the instrument sound worse, don’t EQ.
  • Another rule of thumb – cutting is better than boosting.
  • Thumb war rule – when there are many instruments, cut frequencies to make space for other instruments.
  • Thumb thumb rule – listen before EQ-ing.
  • Focus mainly on the mids(150Hz – 10kHz)
  • For vocals touch the four bands:
    • Body – 150-250Hz
    • Box – 350-500Hz
    • Nasal – 750Hz-2kHz
    • Presence – 3.5-8kHz
  • For other instruments, take the frequencies above just as a reference to EQ.
  • Locate the exact frequency to cut. Increase the gain of the band, have a narrow Q, sweep around where you find irritating, hear the right frequency, cut it.
  • I have too many thumb rules – generally, when you boost, don’t boost narrow Q, always boost wide Q. When you boost narrow Q, you can hear the EQ reinforcing/exaggerating the frequency.
Dynamic Processors
  • Remember the order of signal processing for different instruments:
    • Drums/percussive instrument = Gate/Expander – Compressor – EQ
    • Others = EQ – Comp
  • Reason for Gate-Comp-EQ: For drum set, there are many instruments/drums/cymbals being played at one time. You will find yourself meeting the problem of leakage from the other drums. SO by gate-ing the microphone, you will find the signal much easier to handle.
  • If you do EQ before the gate, you will find it hard to do EQ, because every time you EQ, you will need to change the threshold of the gate.
  • Reason for doing EQ-Comp: You basically make the sound as nice as possible before squashing the dynamics of the track. If you squash before you EQ, It might be a bit harder to identify the problems.
  • HOWEVER, you may not be able to change the order of the processors on the Midas board in G2, so yeah, just work with what you have lor.
  • Gate – Make sure that the gate releases fully when the drums are hit and the gate closes when it isn’t. KEEP WATCH AT THE GR METER!!!
  • Comp – Make sure that there is compression. KEEP WATCH ON THE GR METER!!!! Do make sure that the GR actually moves. You wouldn’t want the compressor to always stay at one place. You also wouldn’t want to compress too little such that the track goes in and out of compressing.
Make sure the monitor levels/mix on stage are good
  • Same principles apply to the musician’s monitor levels. Make sure that they can hear every instrument.
  • BUT, it doesn’t mean that you need to send everything to the monitor.
  • For example, if the drums are on stage. You may not even need to send the drums on the monitors because it is already THAT loud.
  • A good practice is to go on stage, stand in their place, hear what they are hearing and edit their mix base on what you hear. Many people aren’t that experienced in mixing, it is just a good practice to help them out a little bit.
Set Custom Faders and DCAs
  • DCA stands for Digital Controlled Amplifiers.
  • Always makes sure that nothing is in your DCA when you are doing everything above.
  • It is set to become a subfader before the master fader.
  • There were times when I forgot to put my DCA fader up and I panicked because the sound wasn’t coming out from the house speakers.
  • I would typically set one DCA for every instrument, one for the vocals and one for the whole drum set.
  • Custom Faders are pages where you can pick and choose which faders to go into a custom fader page.
  • This is helpful because you would seldom use all the channels on the board. Having a page where you can customise which channels are the page is just convenient you see.
  • You can even put DCAs/Mix Sends/Matrix Sends/Stereo In channels in these fader banks.
Start mixing during rehearsal
  • Don’t scramble during service to mix.
  • Mix during rehearsal just to get a generally balanced mix.
  • However, do take note that this mix may have to change during the actual service.
Whatever you EQ-ed/Compressed before individually may change… 😔
  • Sadly, this is the truth. What works alone may not work together in the mix.
  • When you mix and something isn’t sounding great/clashing with the other instruments frequencies. You may need to change settings of the EQ and Compressors.
  • Some musicians also play differently from when they sound check and when they perform. So yes, be alert, hear and hear and hear.
REMEMBER the most important, the two main objectives of a mix!
  1. Everything on stage can be heard in the mix
  2. Everything on stage must sound right and human.
Achieve these two objectives before you do anything based on your artistic preference.
Think of imaging
  • Start visualising, imagine depth(forward/backward) and spread. (left/right)
  • Imagine the sound stage when you listen, does it sound like it is coming from the stage?
  • Is anyone sticking out too much?
  • imagine a straight line in front of you, where is each instrument on the line?
  • Who is too close? Who is too far?
  • Always hear and be alert; be sensitive.
Add Reverb
  • First, is what kind of reverb for what instruments.
  • If you have the luxury of time and channels, you can separate all the reverbs for different instruments. This will give you more convenience in the mixing stage.
  • On the Yamaha CL3, I only recommend using these Reverb effects:
    • Rev-X Med Hall – The most complex sounding reverb among this three. I use this for the keys. It makes you touch your heart when a piano plays in this reverb! AHAHA!
    • Rev-X (Med?) Room – I use this typically for vocals now. I may change. I don’t exactly like this reverb. Haven’t gotten the right sound yet. Currently not very pleased with this sound. If you dislike the sound too, use the Rev-X Plate.
    • Rev-X Plate – The simplest sounding reverb among this three. I use this typically for the guitar. Very sweet and smooth. Almost make the guitar sound like an electric guitar. If you are troubled and cannot decide which reverb to use, use this. This is the most versatile reverb on the board because of its simplicity.
    • Stereo Reverb – I honestly haven’t tried this reverb out yet. My lecturer told me that this was the only decent reverb before the Rev-X Reverb was added on to the live soundboard.
  • Use sparingly. Don’t go too over the top on reverb. Hear the reverb, you want the reverb to be heard/noticeable by you, but nobody else. HAHA.
  • CUT REVERB WHEN SOMEONE SPEAKS!!!!
  • Be alert during service, cut the reverb when someone switches from singing to speaking. If you don’t It will be very muddy and distracting
  • Use reverb only when they sing.
  • You can even EQ the Reverb return to tweak the sound to your liking.
  • Cut highs to make it sound far away.
  • Cut lows to prevent the mic from being muddy.
BE ALERT
  • A sound engineer must be alert ah.
  • Heard what problems there are, watch the stage if the musicians want anything.
  • Treat your board as an instrument. You can be musical on the sound board one.

=542= Reflections: Cool

Ok let me reflect on something before I prepare for set.

Began watching Freaks and Geeks. Man I love the show! So much to admire about it!

First the format. I love how each episode has it’s very subtle and nice conclusion. From dancing to calling the cops to serving trick or treat, everything was just nice and heartfelt. I mean, at least from the first three episodes I watched!

Then, the overall message of being accepted and bullied. Being cool.

It just got me thinking. What is “cool?” The show has a stereotypical white girl Christian, Millie. Well, for everyone else, she is the least cool person. People find her a prude. However, are you telling me the blonde girl Kim is the cool one? No way man.

What is cool?

I think someone that gets excited and passionate when he speaks about something is very cool.

I find someone that is certain about Christian values and yet isn’t narrow minded someone very cool.

I find someone that can do something that not many people can very cool.

What is cool? 

I think I am pretty cool! 😎AHAHAH

-Kelvin-

=541= Word: Brilliance in Consistency

Brilliance in Consistency. That is what Steve Jordan is known for. His consistency and groove are out of this world.

In the pursuit of clarity and consistency in my drumming now, I decided to revisit John Mayer’s Where The Light Is and Try Albums. Let’s enjoy brilliance in playing and consistency. 

Hope that one day I will be able to play half as well as Steve Jordan.

-Kelvin-